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VOL.

411, SEPTEMBER 22, 2003 387


Alfarero vs. Sevilla

*
G.R. No. 142974. September 22, 2003.

SPOUSES SHEM G. ALFARERO and AURELIA


TAGALOG, SPOUSES GINES G. ALFARERO and NONI
CRUSPERO and NAOMI G. ALFARERO, petitioners, vs.
SPOUSES PETRA and SANCHO SEVILLA, respondents.

Sales; Evidence; Notarial Law; Actions; Prescription;


Judgment on the Pleadings; Pleadings and Practice; The burden of
evidence lies with the party who asserts an affirmative allegation;
Where a party moves for a judgment on the pleadings, and the
same is granted by the trial court, he thereby waives the
presentation of any evidence.—First, recall that in Civil Case No.
91-01 for repurchase and damages, the petitioners herein raised
the affirmative defense of prescription. As the burden of evidence
lies with the party who asserts an affirmative allegation,
petitioners had the duty of proving the affirmative allegations in
their affirmative defense, namely, that the action had prescribed
as the property was conveyed to them sometime in December
1985, while Civil Case No. 91-01 was filed only on January 3,
1991, or beyond the five-year period prescribed by Section 119 of
the Public Land Act. The records show, however, that at pre-trial,
petitioners moved for a judgment on the pleadings, which motion
was granted by the trial court. In so doing, the petitioners thus
omitted at the first instance to present any evidence, which would
categorically and definitely establish that the sale of the disputed
property did indeed take place in December 1985. Petitioners are
estopped by their own actions and cannot now come to this Court
insisting that the Court of Appeals erred in holding that there
was no evidence to support their allegation that the sale took
place in December 1985.
Same; Same; Same; Public or notarial documents, or those
instruments duly acknowledged or proved and certified as
provided by law, may be presented in evidence without further
proof, the certificate of acknowledgment being prima facie evidence
of the execution of the instrument or document involved.—Second,
recall that the date May 25, 1986, which the court a quo accepted
as the date of the sale was contained in a notarized instrument.
In so doing, the appellate court merely applied the rule of long
standing that a public document executed and attested through
the intervention of a notary public is evidence of the facts in a
clear, unequivocal manner therein expressed. Otherwise stated,
public or notarial documents, or those instruments duly
acknowledged or proved and certified as provided by law, may be
presented in evidence without further proof, the certificate of
acknowledgment being prima facie evidence of the execution of
the instrument or document involved. In order to contradict the
pre-

_______________

* SECOND DIVISION.

388

388 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Alfarero vs. Sevilla

sumption of regularity of a public document, evidence must be


clear, convincing, and more than merely preponderant. Such
evidence is wanting in this case.
Actions; Pleadings and Practice; New Trial; A motion for new
trial should be made within the period for perfecting an appeal.—
The time is past for petitioners’ arguments. Our scrutiny of the
records shows that the second query posed, under the
circumstances of this case, is moot and academic. Rule 37, Section
1 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure clearly provides that a
motion for new trial should be made “within the period for taking
an appeal.” Instead, what the record shows is that petitioners, in
effect, only asked for a new trial after the appellate court had
rendered its decision on appeal. Such a situation is definitely not
permissible under the Rules. It is well accepted that a motion for
new trial based on newly discovered evidence may indeed be filed
after judgment, but within the period for perfecting an appeal.
Same; Same; Appeals; Due Process; As a rule, basic
considerations of due process dictate that no question will be
entertained on appeal unless it has been raised in the court below.
—Moreover, the record clearly and categorically shows that
petitioners’ second query was not raised in the proceedings at the
first instance. As a rule, basic considerations of due process
dictate that no question will be entertained on appeal unless it
has been raised in the court below. Points of law, theories of the
case, questions of fact and law, issues, and arguments not brought
to the attention of the lower court need not and ordinarily will not
be considered by the reviewing court, as these cannot be raised for
the first time at that late stage.

PETITION for review on certiorari of the decision and


resolution of the Court of Appeals.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.


     Garcilaso F. Vega for petitioners.
     Jose L. Silvosa for respondents.

QUISUMBING, J.:
1
For review is the decision of the Court of Appeals, dated
November 22, 1999, in CA-G.R. CV No. 58277, as well as
its resolu-

_______________

1 Rollo, pp. 22-28. Penned by Associate Justice Eloy R. Bello, Jr., with
Presiding Justice Jainal D. Rasul and Associate Justice Ruben T. Reyes
concurring.

389

VOL. 411, SEPTEMBER 22, 2003 389


Alfarero vs. Sevilla

2
tion, dated April 5, 2000, denying herein petitioners’
Motion for Reconsideration. 3The Court of Appeals had
affirmed in toto the judgment of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Panabo, Davao del Norte, Branch 4, in Civil Case
No. 91-01, the decretal portion of which reads:

“WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the


plaintiffs and against the defendants ordering as follows:

1. The plaintiffs are allowed to repurchase the subject


property covered under Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-
49928 of the Registry of Deeds for the Province of Davao
del Norte and the defendants, in whose names the said
certificate of title has been issued, are jointly ordered to
reconvey and/or sell back the said property to the
plaintiffs, who in turn shall pay back to the defendants
the purchase price of P12,000.00, plus the legal rate of
interest from May 25, 1986 up to defendants’
reconveyance and/or re-sale of the subject property to
them; in the event of refusal of the defendants to accept
the consideration of the reconveyance and/or the resale of
the property as determined herein, the plaintiffs are
allowed to deposit the said consideration plus legal rate of
interest in court subject to disposal to the defendants at
all times;
2. The payment to the plaintiffs by the defendants jointly of
attorney’s fees in the amount of P7,500.00 only;
3. No further costs.
4
SO ORDERED.”

The facts of this case, as found by the appellate court, are


as follows:

[The Spouses Petra and Sancho Sevilla] are the registered owners
of a piece of land situated at San Vicente, Panabo, Davao [del
Norte] with an area of 14.038 hectares, more or less and covered
by Original Certificate of Title No. P-15615.
In a Deed of Sale executed and ratified before Notary Public
Jose B. Banzon and entered in his Notarial Registry as Doc. No.
148; Page No. 30; Book No. LV; Series of 1986, it appears that on
May 25, 1986, a portion of the above-mentioned parcel of land
with an area of 1.000 hectare, more or less, was sold to the
[Spouses Shem G. Alfarero and Aurelia Tagalog, Spouses Gines G.
Alfarero and Noni Cruspero, Joel G. Alfarero and Naomi G.
Alfarero] in the amount of P12,000.00.

_______________

2 Id., at pp. 30-31.


3 Records, pp. 77-88.
4 Id., at pp. 87-88.

390

390 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED


Alfarero vs. Sevilla

The Deed of Sale was registered by the [herein petitioners] with


the Office of the Register of Deeds of the Province of Davao and as
a result, a Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-49928 was issued in
their name. Inscribed on the face of the said Transfer Certificate
of Title No. T-49928 is the following limitation:

“Subject to the rights of repurchase by the Original Patentee or his heirs


within a period of five (5) years from the date of the conveyance pursuant
to Section 119 of Commonwealth Act 141, as amended.”
Sometime on October 1986, plaintiff Petra Sevilla allegedly
sent a letter to the parents of the defendants and to the
defendants themselves, indicating the plaintiffs’ desire to
repurchase the above-mentioned parcel of land, but defendants
allegedly objected to the offer of repurchase.
On January 3, 1991, plaintiffs filed the present action to
repurchase.
Defendants’ rejection of the offer to repurchase is based on the
defense that the plaintiffs’ action has already prescribed, that
plaintiffs’ offer to repurchase is already beyond the five (5) year
limitation period. According to the defendants, the Deed of Sale
was executed sometime in December 1985 although notarized
only on May 26, 1986. Hence, according to them, counting from
December 1985 [to] January 3, 1991, when the plaintiffs filed the
present action, the five (5) year period has then [e]lapsed.
During the pre-trial proceedings on August 23, 1996, the
parties again moved for judgment on the pleadings. The court
granted the parties’ motion and allowed them to submit their
respective memoranda. After the parties submitted their
memoranda, the court resolved the matter [in favor 5
of the
plaintiffs] on the basis of such submitted pleadings. . . .

Dissatisfied with the adverse ruling of the trial court, the


petitioners herein appealed to the Court of Appeals in CA-
G.R. CV No. 58277.
On November 22, 1999, the appellate6
court affirmed in
toto the decision of the trial court.
In sustaining the trial court, the Court of Appeals found
that the notarized Deed of Sale executed on May 25, 1986,
relied upon by the respondents herein, is entitled to more
evidentiary weight than the Deed of Sale offered by the
petitioners herein to sustain their theory that the action of
the Sevillas had already prescribed. The

_______________

5 CA Rollo, pp. 60-62.


6 Id., at p. 66.

391

VOL. 411, SEPTEMBER 22, 2003 391


Alfarero vs. Sevilla

appellate court noted that the date of execution in the Deed


of Sale presented by the Alfareros merely read “__th day of
December 1985” and the document was not notarized nor
its authenticity proven by substantial evidence. Hence, as
between the two Deeds of Sale offered by the parties in
evidence, that of the Sevillas, which was notarized and
with the date of its execution plainly indicated therein,
should prevail over that of the Alfareros, which was not
notarized and whose date of execution in December 1985
was not stated with definiteness. Otherwise put, it is the
public document, rather than the private one, which
commands the greater evidentiary weight, according to the
assailed decision.
Hence, the instant petition for review.
Before us, petitioners raise the following questions:

1. WHEN TWO DATES APPEAR IN THE DEED OF SALE


OF A PARCEL OF LAND: ONE, THE DATE WHEN THE
PARTIES SIGNED THE INSTRUMENT; AND, THE
OTHER, THE DATE WHEN THE SAME INSTRUMENT
WAS NOTARIZED; WHAT IS CONSIDERED AS THE
“DATE OF THE CONVEYANCE” FOR THE PURPOSE
OF COUNTING THE “PERIOD OF FIVE YEARS,”
SHALL IT BE THE FORMER OR THE LATTER DATE?
2. CAN A PARTY LITIGANT FILE A MOTION FOR NEW
TRIAL EVEN IF THE CASE IS ON APPEAL AND IS
PENDING BEFORE THE COURT OF APPEALS ON
THE GROUND OF NEWLY DISCOVERED EVIDENCE
WHICH PETITIONERS COULD NOT, WITH
REASONABLE DILIGENCE, HAVE DISCOVERED AND
PRODUCED AT THE TRIAL AND WHICH IF
PRESENTED
7
WOULD PROBABLY ALTER THE
RESULT?

Succinctly put, the issues are: (1) Did the Court of Appeals
commit a reversible error of law in holding that, for
purposes8 of determining9
the “date of conveyance” under
Sec. 119 of CA No. 141, as amended, the date of execution
as provided for in the notarized document was controlling?
and (2) Did the Court of Appeals err in denying petitioners’
Motion for New Trial?

_______________

7 Rollo, p. 8.
8 SEC. 119. Every conveyance of land acquired under the free patent or
homestead provisions, when proper, shall be subject to repurchase by the
applicant, his widow, or legal heirs, within a period of five years from the
date of the conveyance.
9 The Public Land Act.

392
392 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
Alfarero vs. Sevilla

On the first issue, the petitioners insist that it was error for
the Court of Appeals to have relied upon the notarized
Deed of Sale offered by the respondents in making a
finding that the date of conveyance of the disputed
property was May 25, 1986 and not December 1985. They
call our attention to the fact that the date “May 25, 1986”
was only superimposed, evidently when the document was
notarized. Given this fact of superimposition, it cannot be
conclusive when opposed to the petitioners’ allegation that
the property in question was actually sold to them in
December 1985, as shown by the Deed of Sale they offered
in evidence.
Respondents counter that what is stake is the
evidentiary value of a private instrument of sale vis-à-vis a
notarized Deed of Sale. They submit that the court a quo
committed no reversible error of law in giving more
credence and weight to the notarized document. For the
court’s holding is in accordance both with the rules of
evidence and prevailing jurisprudence, say the
respondents.
We find petitioners’ arguments less persuasive than
respondents’.
First, recall that in Civil Case No. 91-01 for repurchase
and damages, the petitioners herein raised the affirmative
defense of prescription. As the burden of evidence lies with
the party who asserts an affirmative allegation, petitioners
had the duty of proving the affirmative allegations in their
affirmative defense, namely, that the action had prescribed
as the property was conveyed to them sometime in
December 1985, while Civil Case No. 91-01 was filed only
on January 3, 1991, or beyond the five-year period
prescribed by Section 119 of the Public Land Act. The
records show, however, that at pre-trial, petitioners moved
for a judgment on10the pleadings, which motion was granted
by the trial court. In so doing, the petitioners thus omitted
at the first instance to present any evidence, which would
categorically and definitely establish that the sale of the
disputed property did indeed take place in December 1985.
Petitioners are estopped by their own actions and cannot
now come to this Court insisting that the Court of Appeals
erred in holding that there was no evidence to support their
allegation that the sale took place in December 1985.
Second, recall that the date May 25, 1986, which the
court a quo accepted as the date of the sale was contained
in a notarized in-
_______________

10 Records, p. 67.

393

VOL. 411, SEPTEMBER 22, 2003 393


Alfarero vs. Sevilla

strument. In so doing, the appellate court merely applied


the rule of long standing that a public document executed
and attested through the intervention of a notary public is
evidence of11the facts in a clear, unequivocal manner therein
expressed. Otherwise stated, public or notarial
documents, or those instruments duly acknowledged or
proved and certified as provided by law, may be presented
in evidence without further proof, the certificate of
acknowledgment being prima facie evidence of 12 the
execution of the instrument or document involved. In
order to contradict the presumption of regularity of a public
document, evidence must be 13
clear, convincing, and more
than merely preponderant. Such evidence is wanting in
this case.
Anent the second issue, petitioners insist that they have
new evidence which would show that on December 28,
1990, or one week before Civil Case No. 91-01 was filed,
respondents herein delivered P45,000.00 to their counsel
for the repurchase of the disputed lot and after their lawyer
failed to consign said amount with the trial court,
respondents then filed an estafa case against said lawyer.
From the foregoing, it can be deduced that the actual
purchase price of the property was actually P45,000.00 and
not P12,000.00 as indicated in the notarized Deed of Sale
relied upon both by the trial court and the Court of
Appeals, say the petitioners. They submit that from the
foregoing, a new trial should have been ordered by the
court a quo.
Respondents counter that the petitioners’ submissions
are not even worthy of a lengthy refutation as the 1997
Rules of Civil Procedure clearly provide that a motion for
new trial or reconsideration must be filed within the period
for taking an appeal.
The time is past for petitioners’ arguments. Our scrutiny
of the records shows that the second query posed, under the
circumstances
14
of this case, is moot and academic. Rule 37,
Section 1 of

_______________
11 Zambo v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 104166, 30 July 1993, 224 SCRA
855, 859.
12 Chua v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 88383, 19 February 1992, 206
SCRA 339, 345-346.
13 Gevero v. Intermediate Appellate Court, G.R. No. 77029, 30 August
1990, 189 SCRA 201, 206; Rebuldela v. Intermediate Appellate Court, No.
L-70856, 11 November 1987, 155 SCRA 520, 529.
14 SEC. 1. Grounds of and period for filing motion for new trial or
reconsideration.—Within the period for taking an appeal, the aggrieved

394

394 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED


Alfarero vs. Sevilla

the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure clearly provides that a


motion for new trial should be made “within the period for
taking an appeal.” Instead, what the record shows is that
petitioners, in effect, only asked for a new trial after the
appellate court had rendered its decision on appeal. Such a
situation is definitely not permissible under the Rules. It is
well accepted that a motion for new trial based on newly
discovered evidence may indeed be filed after 15
judgment,
but within the period for perfecting an appeal.
Moreover, the record clearly and categorically shows
that petitioners’ second query was not raised in the
proceedings at the first instance. As a rule, basic
considerations of due process dictate that no question will
be entertained
16
on appeal unless it has been raised in the
court below. Points of law, theories of the case, questions
of fact and law, issues, and arguments not brought to the
attention of the lower court need not and ordinarily will not
be considered by the reviewing court, as these cannot be
raised for the first time at that late stage.

_______________

party may move the trial court to set aside the judgment or final order
and grant a new trial for one or more of the following causes materially
affecting the substantial rights of said party:

(a) Fraud, accident, mistake, or excusable negligence which ordinary


prudence could not have guarded against and by reason of which
such aggrieved party has probably been impaired in his rights; or
(b) Newly discovered evidence, which he could not, with reasonable
diligence, have discovered and produced at the trial, and which if
presented would probably alter the result.Within the same period,
the aggrieved party may also move for reconsideration upon the
grounds that the damages awarded are excessive, that the
evidence is insufficient to justify the decision or final order, or that
the decision or final order is contrary to law.

15 Bernardo v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 101680, 7 December 1992,


216 SCRA 224, 234.
16 Del Rosario v. Bonga, G.R. No. 136308, 23 January 2001, 350 SCRA
101, 108, citing Keng Hua Paper Products Co., Inc. v. Court of Appeals,
G.R. No. 116863, 12 February 1998, 286 SCRA 257, 267, Arcelona v. Court
of Appeals, 345 Phil. 250, 275; 280 SCRA 20 (1997); Mendoza v. Court of
Appeals, G.R. No. 116216, 20 June 1997, 274 SCRA 527, 538, Remman
Enterprises, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 335 Phil. 1150 1162; 268 SCRA 688
(1997). See also Rule 44, Section 15 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.

395

VOL. 411, SEPTEMBER 22, 2003 395


Alfarero vs. Sevilla

To conclude, we hold that the Court of Appeals did not err


when it acted unfavorably on petitioners’ motion for a new
trial.
WHEREFORE, the petition for review is DENIED for
lack of merit. The assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals,
dated November 22, 1999, as well as its Resolution of April
5, 2000, in CA-G.R. CV No. 58277 are AFFIRMED. Costs
against the petitioners.
SO ORDERED.

          Bellosillo (Chairman), Austria-Martinez, Callejo,


Sr. and Tinga, JJ., concur.

Petition denied, assailed judgment and resolution


affirmed.

Notes.—A motion to set aside judgment by default


and/or for new trial which does not specify the facts
constituting the alleged fraud which under the Rules must
be alleged with particularity is a pro forma motion that
does not interrupt the running of the period to appeal.
(Manila Electric Company vs. La Campana Food Products,
Inc., 247 SCRA 77 [1995])

Negligence or incompetency of counsel is a well-


recognized ground for new trial. (Tan vs. Court of Appeals,
275 SCRA 568 [1997])
If an appellate court fails to provide the appeal the
attention it rightfully deserves, said court deprives the
appellant of due process since he is not accorded a fair
opportunity to be heard by a fair and responsible
magistrate. (Yao vs. Court of Appeals, 344 SCRA 202
[2000])

——o0o——

396

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